Cold fails to stem Easter rush

The prospect of one of the coldest Easters in 30 years and rising prices do not seem to have had any negative impact on the traditional exodus of Athenians ditching the city in favor of spending the next few days in the countryside. According to figures released yesterday, some 118,000 passengers set sail from Piraeus between last Friday and Tuesday. This was a rise of some 7,000 over the same period last year. An extra 5,000 passengers left through the port of Rafina this year as compared to 2007. The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) has upped the number of carriages on its services by 20 percent and almost 1,000 KTEL intercity buses are expected to depart from Athens today and tomorrow. A number of Athenians have picked foreign destinations for their Easter vacation and about 3,000 flights are due to land or take off from Athens International Airport over the next week. However, the largest percentage of Athenians is expected to leave the city by car. Although there was a gradual build up of traffic yesterday, a sharper increase is expected today and tomorrow. As part of the special traffic measures for Easter, from today trucks will not be allowed onto national roads between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. Warnings from meteorologists that an uncharacteristic cold snap is expected to spread across the country from today do not appear to have dampened the desire of Athenians to spend their Easter outside the capital. Rain is forecast for many parts of the country today and tomorrow, with the mountainous regions of central and northern Greece even expected to witness snowfall. The temperature is expected to range between 17 Celsius (62 Fahrenheit) and 22C (71F) on these days. These temperatures will make this Easter one of the coldest that has been recorded over the last three decades. Easter Sunday, when Greek families usually roast a lamb on a spit, is expected to be cloudy in most of the country but the Aegean Islands are likely to experience some rain.

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